This was written some time ago, but it still applies, I believe. Thanks for reading.
On my drive home tonight, at the small city of Hope, Idaho, I watched a meteor inscribe the black heavens with a golden signature. It blew across the southern sky, as if launched by Orion, and fell behind the Green Monarchs, leaving nothing behind but my memory of it, and the memory of other meteors. What better place to see such a thing, but from a place called Hope?
We knew meteors as falling stars in our youth and threw our greatest wishes in their wakes, not daring to utter a word before we wished, for fear of breaking the spell; never telling the wish, lest we hex it.
It will soon be Christmas Eve at my house, and I am thinking of many of you, the year behind us and the years before us. The saying goes, “Time marches on,” as if it moves in measured step. I think it does not. We try to measure it, but often it leaps and dances through our lives, bounding around us like a joyful child. Sometimes it trudges on like a tired old woman in heavy black shoes walking home from the funeral of her husband. All too often, it flees before us like our own shadow, and, like ignorant children, we try to catch it, chasing it until we collapse.
I noticed this year that I often am very busy at chasing my own shadow, and when I look around me, I see that I am not alone. As we work our way into the 2020s we seem also to be trying to approach the speed of light in our travels through our lives. Einstein theorized that when we achieve the speed of light, we will be every place in the Universe at once; and that seems to be what we are trying to do: to be everywhere at once … and everything.
Perhaps we are trying to emulate God.
We are created in God’s image, after all, or so go the mythologies of our race. Christians have no patent on that story, and we all have the right to participate in the mystery; the wonder of our own existence, the question of where we came from and Who might have put us here.
In the coming days, let us slow down and consider the question.
That is as much a prayer as it is a proposal. We are never going to catch our shadow by running after it. For, in fact, we have it already. It is attached to us, not us to it, and it only marks our place in the light.
Our shadow does not define us, but we are often defined by our eras in the shadows, our times spent with the old woman in heavy shoes. It is when we enter the darkness that we discover what we are made of and find that we exist even when our shadow does not. If we were to live our whole lives in the light, we might never find out what and who we really are, and we would certainly never see a falling star.
My Christmas and New Year wish for all of us then, and I do dare to speak it, is for darkness to discover ourselves in, light to show to others when they are in their times of darkness, a God for us to pray to if we so choose, the blessing of time that passes like the joyful child and falling stars to wish upon.